7 a.m.: Venture For Success Preparatory Learning Center, Denver

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Ann Schimke, Chalkbeat – co.chalkbeat.org

Dressed in purple scrub pants and a coordinated print top, Catherine Scott started her work day with a spray bottle of bleach solution, wiping down door handles, tables and a laptop keyboard. 

Scott is not a health care worker, but a preschool teacher — often tasked with opening the child care center where she works in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood.

When children began arriving with their parents, Scott met them at the front door, thermometer in hand. After temperature checks, parents logged their child’s arrival on the laptop, and everybody washed their hands in the sink up front. 

Scott, who the youngsters call “Miss Cathy” or “Miss Cappy,” had just three children in her classroom — a 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old — two of them new to the center. It was a far cry from the usual 15 she would have on a day without coronavirus. 

After many child care providers closed last month, state officials made a recommendation that caught some by surprise: Stay open, with precautions, to care for the children of working parents. 

Scott and her co-teacher recorded morning “circle time” so the video could be posted to a private YouTube channel for children whose parents kept them home. They sang their good morning song in English and Spanish and read the book “Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons.” 

One of the biggest challenges of preschool in the coronavirus era is social distancing. Instead of the usual snuggles and hugs, Scott has switched to distance hugs, air high fives, and pats on the back. One student spontaneously jumped into her lap, then quickly realized her mistake. 

“I sorry,” the girl said. “Air high five.”